My dear friend Sarah Joy Hays is one of the most inspiring people I know. Almost three years ago, she found herself 30 years old, quite single . . . and pregnant. Despite the perception that all unwed single mothers are poor, young, and unreligious, she was none of the three. A middle-class young professional, deeply involved in her Christian church, Hays was forced to make her pro-life views personal. What would she do? She could have aborted the pregnancy quietly and forgotten the situation, she could have carried the baby to term and given him up for adoption, or she could take the hard road and raise her son on a single income as a single mother.
Hays mercifully chose the last option, and is raising one of the most adorable redheaded children in America as a result. I don’t think for a moment she has seriously regretted the choice she made (especially as it pertains to abortion), even if her road has been anything but easy.
Writing in The Federalist earlier this year, Hays discussed how the pro-life movement can do better for women faced with the same choice. She wrote,
The pro-life movement can be frustrating for some. The pro-choice crowd loves to taunt that we are only “pro-birth.” Well, a lot of people around me were far more than just pro-birth, and if your conviction lies in the pro-life column, find a way to be that. Find a local crisis pregnancy center. Let local high schools, middle schools, or youth groups know that you are available to talk.
Had Hays been less ideologically grounded in her Christian faith, or had she been without health-care coverage (she had reliable health insurance through her job), and decided to go to the only low-cost local option for pregnancy care, Planned Parenthood, she likely would have chosen a far different path for herself and her son.
Much of the frustration with the pro-life community is centered around the perception that we are only “pro-birth,” and that if Planned Parenthood disappeared women would be left without any viable options in seeking low-cost health care. Unfortunately, these myths persist despite the myriad pregnancy centers with pro-life focuses that provide counseling for women who choose life, despite the countless organizations — for example, this special organization in Travis, Mich., I profiled for Opportunity Lives — which provide cribs and more for families in need.
Pro-lifers are making a critical messaging mistake in the quest to defund the abortion giant by not effectively highlighting the viable alternatives.
Pro-lifers are making a critical messaging mistake in the quest to defund the abortion giant by not effectively highlighting the viable alternatives that exist in most markets for health care unrelated to abortion or for those who might consider carrying their pregnancy to term if given the whole picture (including an actual, physical picture of their baby via an ultrasound). I know from talking to friends who have visited their local Planned Parenthood for well-woman exams, pap smears, and prescription birth control (used both to control pregnancy and for related medical reasons) that Republicans working towards defunding are viewed by women (even those who might otherwise have been sympathetic to defunding the abortion provider after last summer’s video exposés of Planned Parenthood) as ideologically narrow-minded: the party of “no” instead of the party of solutions. We can’t take away a health-care facility without an already existing option for patients to go to instead.
Fortunately, one woman in Boise, Idaho, Brandi Swindell, has changed the way many women in her area receive gynecological health care, blazing the trail toward making Planned Parenthood obsolete. Her health-care organization, Stanton Healthcare, is model of how pro-life conservatives can create positive change in a community by providing women with a viable alternative to seeking prenatal care at an organization that financially profits from pregnancy termination. It provides nearly all of the services that Planned Parenthood offers, and some that it doesn’t. Patients are offered ultrasound, pregnancy confirmation, uterine and ovarian diagnostics, sexually-transmitted-disease and infection testing and treatment, prenatal care and postnatal follow-up, and occasional mammography in a clean facility with skilled practitioners — a far cry from the situation at many Planned Parenthood locations.
Swindell is already making waves in the public-relations department. I first heard of Stanton Healthcare because of a piece in — of all places — Cosmo after the famously pro-abortion publication wrote a largely flattering profile of Swindell and her work since the founding of Stanton ten years ago.
#related#What makes Stanton different from Planned Parenthood isn’t just its pro-life mission, but also its appeal to women. For decades, Planned Parenthood has been the only game in town for providing health services for low-income women. As a result, Planned Parenthood’s clinics often haven’t tried very hard to do well. I know this from personal experience: At 19 years old, I found myself orphaned and living on Medicaid. I had no primary-care doctor and needed a birth-control prescription for medical reasons (I had recurrent ovarian cysts). I walked into a local Planned Parenthood to make an appointment (which, it turned out, I would have had to wait a considerable amount of time to get), and walked right back out. I tried again at a different location. Both were so unsanitary, I felt uncomfortable disrobing in order to be examined. After The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway highlighted 39 terrible Yelp reviews of Planned Parenthood locations — it turns out my impression was far from unique.
Not only might Stanton and similar organizations help change minds and hearts around abortion, it might actually save lives — the lives of babies whose mothers would have gone to Planned Parenthood instead. Conservatism faces some tough challenges ahead, but the work of Brandi Swindell and other pro-life activists provides a light for those of us who believe that conservatism is compassionate at heart — and who want to make that message loud and clear for everyone, especially those in need who would most benefit from our message.